Anxiety and stress are both natural responses that everybody has in daily life. If we didn’t have these responses, we wouldn’t worry about things such as exams, goals, etc as healthy stress and anxiety can push and motivate you to do things. However, they can become a disorder when they happen constantly and are of severe crippling intensity, among other diagnostic criteria. There are ways to reduce “normal” stress and anxiety naturally that also could help when they become a disorder. I myself suffer from a anxiety disorder, which took me a while to become just about fully in control of it. Here are some tips that I and others have used to successfully reduce and/or treat anxiety and stress in your life!
1. Eat a healthy diet full of nutrients, especially B vitamins and omega 3s!: A healthy diet will provide all the building blocks of neurotransmitters, feel good chemicals involved in transmitting messages between nerve cells. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin are thought to be very much involved in mental disorders, including anxiety disorders. Another lesser known thing that may be involved in mental disorders is inflammation, which a healthy diet full of omega 3s can also help with. Finally, B vitamins are thought to help with the regulation of stress, so of course making sure you take enough in may also help.
2. Exercise!: Exercise, besides having many other benefits can help with stress and anxiety. When doing exercise, your body releases feel good chemicals called endorphins, which when in a bout of stress or anxiety can definitely help you feel better. Beside that exercise can give you something to focus on and can improve self esteem, self confidence and self worth, all of which can help you to deal with anxiety and stress better.
3: Relaxation: There are many ways to relax, some ways work for some people while not working for other people. If you know what can relax you, practise it daily if you can. Ways that I use for myself include hot showers and deep breathing, as they seemingly work instantly or almost instantly to help me when stressed and/or anxious.
Other ways that people use to relax include meditation and yoga.
4. Adequate sleep: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s response to stress seems to worsen and personally when I don’t get enough sleep, I get highly anxious.
5. CBT: If suffering from an actual full blown anxiety disorder, CBT, which stands for cognitive behavioural therapy can help. I myself have done it in the past and can attest to it’s efficacy. It involves examining how thoughts, behaviors and emotions interact with each other. Some but not all mental health professionals are trained in it including nurses and psychologists. It can be an effective treatment alone or along with medication.
6. Exposure therapy: Similarly to CBT, if suffering from an anxiety disorder, exposure therapy can help. It involves exposing yourself to the actual thing that triggers your anxiety. I believe it works because your body will learn to cope with the stressor through natural mechanisms. The more your exposed to it, the more you will get used to it and be able to deal with it more effectively.
7. Music: Another way people deal with anxiety and stress is listening to music. Music can make you feel good and give you something to focus on rather then worrying. I myself love music and I can definitely say it helps!